In early September, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it awarded nearly $30 million in funding to support nuclear fusion technologies.

As discussed in our in-depth whitepaper, The Regulation of Fusion – A Practical and Innovation-Friendly Approach, the U.S. is currently expanding on its nuclear technology capabilities, with commercial-scale fusion generation expected in the coming two decades. Multiple companies are working on fusion technologies that would provide market cost-competitive power and encourage climate change thoughtfulness through carbon-free energy.

The $30 million in DOE funding will help propel technology development by backing nuclear innovation with public-sector resources. The funding will be dispersed between 14 projects, as part of the Galvanizing Advances in Market-aligned fusion for an Overabundance of Watts (GAMOW) program by DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) and the Office of Science’s Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) program. The program prioritizes research and development in the following areas:

  • All the required technologies and subsystems between the fusion plasma and the balance of plant,
  • Cost-effective, high-efficiency, high-duty-cycle driver technologies, and
  • Important cross-cutting areas such as novel fusion materials and advanced and additive manufacturing

Some notable projects include Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s development of plasma-facing components with the capability to handle “extreme heat, high-density plasma, high-energy neurons, and fuel cycling” and Phoenix, LLC’s technology to enable an ultra-flux-DT neuron source for “a cost-effective, groundbreaking, ‘fusion-prototypic’ source of neurons . . . [that] will endure in operation”. These developments, and others, would bring us a step closer to fusion commercialization.